IBM and AMD today claimed a "semiconductor manufacturing breakthrough" based on strained silicon transistor technology that improves processor performance and power efficiency.
According to the companies, the process results in a potential 24 per cent transistor speed increase at the same power levels, compared to similar transistors produced without the technology.
The new strained silicon process, called 'dual stress liner', enhances the performance of both n-channel and p-channel transistors by stretching silicon atoms in one transistor and compressing them in the other.
The technique works without the introduction of costly new production techniques, allowing for rapid integration into volume manufacturing using standard tools and materials.
IBM and AMD said that the jointly developed technology marks the first time that strained silicon has been made to work with silicon-on-insulator technology, resulting in performance and power saving benefits.
The production technique aims to solve the problem of transistors operating faster as they get smaller, but doing so at higher power and heat levels due to electrical leakage or inefficient switching.
Dirk Meyer, executive vice president at AMD's Computation Products Group, said: "Our shared progress in developing advanced silicon technologies allows AMD to deliver today's best performance per watt."
The chip maker intends gradually to integrate the strained silicon technology into all its 90nm processor platforms, including its future multi-core AMD 64 processors. The first 90nm AMD 64s using the technology are scheduled for the first half of 2005.
IBM plans to introduce the technology on multiple 90nm processor platforms, including its Power Architecture-based chips, with the first products slated to begin shipping in the first half of 2005.
"Innovation has surpassed scaling as the primary driver of semiconductor technology performance improvements," said Lisa Su, vice president of technology development and alliances at IBM Systems and Technology Group.
"This achievement with AMD demonstrates that companies willing to share their expertise and skills can find new ways to overcome roadblocks, and help lead the industry to the next generation of technology advancements."
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